New Virtual Reality Simulation Takes You Inside Black Hole
Certain natural phenomena are simply beyond the scope of our experience or imagination. Such is the case with the supermassive black holes at the center of the galaxy. Black holes exhibit such a powerful gravitational effect that no matter can escape from them. Even if we could travel for a tour and somehow survive the extreme gravitational forces (we can’t), we could never do it in a lifetime as a black hole is 25, 640 light years away from the Earth. One light year is 9.5 trillion kilometers and it’s simply impossible for us to fathom 25,640 light years! It’s a realm in space-time that is simply beyond human reach and capabilities. However, thanks to a new virtual reality simulation, we can virtually travel into a back hole and begin to grasp the scale of this phenomenon.
The VR simulation gives you the opportunity to swoop close to the black hole and observe it at close range while experiencing the space-time warping effects of its powerful pull.
The black hole simulation was developed from a collaboration between Radboud University in the Netherlands and Goethe University in Germany using computer models of Sagittarius A, which is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The team deployed a series of detailed images from the models and developed a 360-degree virtual reality simulation of Sagittarius A. The complete simulation of the phenomenon can be viewed using any virtual reality headset.
The new black hole simulation has created one of the most realistic renderings of the direct surroundings of this galactic wonder and can be a good educational experience that helps us further understand how black holes behave. Immersive simulations provide the best shot at understanding how these systems look like and behave.
The Virtual Reality Outreach
The black hole simulation can also be used as an educational and outreach tool. It brings astrophysics much closer to the general public and helps people grasp the enormous scale of our universe. It can be a powerful teaching tool for a complex subject such as the black holes and a template on how such simulations could be used in the future for educational purposes.
As it continues to permeate various areas of human endeavors, virtual reality and augmented reality are being put into new and exciting uses, particularly in outreach and educational settings. They provide users a window into environments that are inaccessible and which are difficult to illustrate. This VR rendering represented the first time that someone had used virtual reality to enter a black hole.
In spite of the extensive research into the phenomenon, black holes are still something of a mystery and feverish research is going on in this area that continues to expand the scope of our understanding of black holes. Year after year, scientists continue to modify their conceptions of black holes as they make new discoveries.
We have always had a mental image on what a black hole should look like. However, scientific research is progressing to a level where we are now able to make fairly accurate renderings of what black holes actually look like beyond what is conceived by our wild imagination. They look quite different from what we imagine them to be. The new virtual reality visualizations are a good starting point to begin expanding our understanding. More is sure to come in the future as scientists continue to invest their efforts in this frontier.